How to Clean a Plumbing Snake

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A plumbing snake, or drain snake, is a type of auger designed to break up and remove clogs from drains in the kitchen or bathroom. Plumbing snakes have a corkscrew auger at the end of a cable, which is usually around 50 feet long in the case of household plumbing snakes. The cable connects to a hand crank, which is used to uncoil the snake once the auger is inserted into the drain. From time to time, your plumbing snake may require some cleaning — fortunately, this is a fairly straightforward process.


Cleaning a Plumbing Snake

A valuable addition to any toolset, plumbing snakes encounter a wide variety of messes during their time in your drain. Maintenance and care are essential in preserving the condition and longevity of your tools. Whenever a plumbing snake is used, it should be cleaned thoroughly and allowed to dry before it is returned to storage.


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Before you use your plumbing snake, fill a bucket with hot water and some antibacterial soap. Depending on the drain and the mess that the plumbing snake come into contact with, you can add 1 cup of bleach per 1 gallon of water, if desired.

Set the bucket aside, but keep it nearby. When you're finished with the plumbing snake, deposit it directly into the bucket and let it soak. Swirl the snake around, loosening up anything that might be stuck.


Scrubbing the Plumbing Snake

Once the snake has soaked for a period of time, put on some gloves and use a scrub brush to clean the entire length of the tool. You should rinse the snake periodically to ensure buildup doesn't linger.

Take the time to scrub the coil at the end of the cable thoroughly. The coil is what breaks apart the obstructions in the drain. If the coil is still caked with the last drain's clog, the snake will not work effectively in the future.


Be careful to avoid splashing yourself or the area nearby when scrubbing. The water you are cleaning with will become quite dirty as you work, so avoid making contact with your skin and eyes, especially if bleach was added to the mixture. Also, take care when handling the plumbing snake — some may have tough bristles.

Drying the Plumbing Snake

When you are satisfied that your plumbing snake is clean, lay it out on some newspaper or an old towel. With a high-bristle wire pipe brush, poke through the plumbing snake's crevices, dislodging any remaining particulate that the scrubbing brush was unable to reach.


Then, run the plumbing snake through clean water to ensure that the coil is clean. Wipe it down with a rag and leave it out to dry completely. Once dry, recoil the snake and return it to storage.

Plumbing Snake Maintenance

The plumbing snake's metal coil is exposed to the entire drain during use, leaving it susceptible to rust from moisture and grime. Proper maintenance of the coil can add a good deal of longevity to your plumbing snake.


Products such as Snakeoil are meant to keep the coil lubricated and free from rust while also minimizing odors and giving the plumbing snake a fresh, clean smell. At a minimum, you should rinse the plumbing snake after each use and allow it to dry thoroughly before storing it.




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